With the passing of its founder and owner, Jennifer Scarbrough, earlier this year, Lovebird Boutique was very near to closing. But friend and patron Nancy Burgner recently swooped in with business partner Peter Gaum to save the De la Guerra Street store. “We really just trusted our instincts,” said Burgner. “There are times in life when you get a gut feeling, and this was one of them.”
Burgner and Gaum have both lived in Santa Barbara for close to 35 years and are no strangers to local retail. Burgner has a background in sales and marketing and worked at Williams-Sonoma for the last five years; Gaum has run Debbie’s Delights for more than two decades. They’ve wanted to team up for a while and saw Lovebird as the perfect opportunity to do just that while preserving a small but beloved treasure of downtown shopping.
Scarbrough’s original vision for the store was to create a multigenerational shopping experience in which mothers and daughters could find clothes and accessories they both liked in an environment that made every woman feel honored and empowered. She also wanted Lovebird to be a community center, participating in First Thursdays and hosting its own smaller events. Bergner and Gaum want to take those goals further by opening up the patio space to fashion shows, wine tasting, and popups with other Santa Barbara vendors, once it is safe to do so.
Adapting to the pandemic means creating a welcoming space for customers, providing a safe and clean environment, and working with people’s budgets, Burgner said. She and Gaum are excited to begin their new journey together while also honoring Scarbrough’s memory, her love of fashion, and her eye for design. “We feel like we’re getting in at the beginning of the renaissance of downtown Santa Barbara,” said Burgner. “Sometimes things have to get bad before they get good.”
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